Emirati men missing from teaching
There remains a shortage of Emirati males in teacher education programmes at federal institutions, including the Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT), which has 17 campuses across the country.
This ongoing issue was raised once again at a recent education forum held at the Middlesex University in Dubai in conjunction with the Shaikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi Foundation for Policy Research. The discussion hosted an academic panel discussion on the strengths and weaknesses of teacher education in the UAE.
“We’ve had 13 Emirati males graduate from our education programme since it began in 2005,” said Michael O’Brien, Dean of Education at the HCT. “We currently have zero enrolled on the programme, which runs across six campuses.” However, the programme still remains a popular one with the Emirati women, O’Brien added, as there have been more than 500 women graduates since its inauguration. “We’ve had 700 women enrol in the programme this year,” he said.
O’Brien added that a shortage of men in the teaching profession is a worldwide phenomenon and is by no means unique to the UAE. However, a local challenge is the fact that there are more career opportunities available to Emirati men than for women. “A key challenge we have here is attracting males into the profession simply because there are better opportunities with better remuneration out there,” he said. “Teaching in the UAE has been comparatively poorly paid compared to what Emiratis can earn in other sectors.” He added the country’s teaching profession would do better to provide a way for people to progress through a structured career system that offered prospects of increased responsibility and compensation.
“We believe in order to attract Emirati men into teaching we’d have to have some sort of sponsorship scheme where there would be a stipend paid to them to study teaching,” he said.
The Emirates College for Advanced Education (ECAE) was established in 2007 by the UAE’s leadership as part of the Abu Dhabi 2030 vision to establish a knowledge economy. The ECEA is the UAE’s first teacher training college. It is based in Abu Dhabi and does, as O’Brien suggested, provide stipends to its students.
The benefits include a 100 percent tuition-free scholarship, free laptop computers and books, as well as accommodation and transportation services for students living outside the capital. However, recent figures provided by the ECAE show that of the total 380 students enrolled in its Bachelor of Education programme, only 16 are men. “There will be 140 student teachers, from ECAE’s first cohort of graduates, who will join the Abu Dhabi Education Council teaching work force, starting September,” said Suzan Safah, head of marketing at ECAE. “Six of them are male teachers.”
The fact remains that the number of Emiratis pursuing a career in education is skewed in favour of the women, which yields a clear imbalance in the country’s education system. This cycle is set to continue as male children go through school with no male role models to in turn attract them to the profession.
“The key thing is the fact that the federal universities are keen to get involved,” said O’Brien. “And we think we’ve identified the key issues needed to take it forward.”